While many have declared Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” the song of the summer, I disagree based on one simple fact: I haven’t heard it.
Forget that I haven’t made an effort to hear it; 20-something Australian rappers aren’t really my thing.
The point is, I shouldn’t have to. Because a true song of the summer is ubiquitous — so big that not only do you not have to pursue it, you also can’t avoid it.
As the season fades with no clear hit song, here’s a top-10 list of songs of summer past, ranked from worst to best.
'Waterfalls,' TLC (1995)
By the mid-1990s, grunge music had faded away, and hip-hop, dance, contemporary R&B and pop music took over chart dominance — culminating with this song, which spent 18 weeks on Billboard’s top-10 singles charts, including seven at No. 1. The song was assisted by a multimillion-dollar music video and the stormy past of rapper Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, who had burned down the mansion she shared with NFL star Andre Rison months earlier.
"Everything I Do (I Do It For You)," Bryan Adams (1991)
Sure, there are better Bryan Adams songs out there (“Run to You,” “Summer of ’69,” “It’s Only Love”) but none were bigger than this, written for “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” Film composer Michael Kamen wrote the musical track. Kate Bush and Annie Lennox were among the early candidates to write and sing lyrics but it ultimately came down to Peter Cetera and Adams. While Cetera’s offering was “too pretty,” Adams’ version had enough gravelly vocals to work.
"Tossin’ and Turnin’,' Bobby Lewis (1961)
In 1961, this song’s memorable first line — “I couldn’t sleep at all last night” — blared on radios everywhere. At the time he recorded it, Lewis — having trouble paying his $18-a-week hotel bill — was on the verge of fleeing New York for a janitorial job in Detroit. But having a hit didn’t improve his fortunes. The biggest royalty payment Lewis ever received for this song was decades later, when Burger King paid him $25,000 to use it in a commercial.
‘Ghostbusters,’ Ray Parker Jr. (1984)
Wedged between two other summer smashes — Prince’s “When Doves Cry” and Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It” — “Ghostbusters” got a huge bump from the blockbuster movie of the same name and a video that combined film clips with fun cameos. During recording, Parker’s girlfriend and her friends gathered in the studio to shout “Ghostbusters!” after the now-famous “Who you gonna call?” lead-in.
‘Blurred Lines,’ Robin Thicke (2013)
The 21st century has had a few big summer songs, including Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” in 2011 and “Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eyed Peas in 2009. But Thicke’s catchy, chauvinistic song, inspired by Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up,” snowballed last summer, spending 10 weeks in the No. 1 slot. A few months later, “Blurred Lines” collaborator Pharrell Williams had his own giant hit with “Happy.”
‘Shadow Dancing,’ Andy Gibb (1978)
In the spring of 1978, “Night Fever,” a Bee Gees single released from the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack, spent eight weeks at No. 1. While Gibb’s siblings — Barry, Maurice and Robin — were at the peak of their musical career, they didn’t forget their kid brother. All four Gibb boys wrote this disco chart-topper, while brother Barry pitched in his trademark falsettos.
‘Rock Around the Clock,’ Bill Haley & His Comets (1955)
The first rock song to top the Billboard charts, this was originally released as a B-side in 1954. But it wasn’t noticed until the summer of ‘55 when it appeared in the opening credits of the film “Blackboard Jungle.” The producers were looking for music that appealed to youth, so lead actor Glenn Ford went through his son’s music collection and picked this one, unknowingly starting a rock ‘n’ roll revolution.
‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,’ The Rolling Stones (1965)
Keith Richards is so good, he can write songs in his sleep. The Stones guitarist was snoring in a hotel room at the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Fla., when a guitar riff and the line “Can’t get no satisfaction” came into his head. Stones singer Mick Jagger has said that “Satisfaction” is the single that turned them into a “huge, monster band.”
‘Every Breath You Take,’ The Police (1983)
While Michael Jackson was tearing up the chart with seven singles from his album “Thriller” in the summer of ’83, The New York Times described this tune about stalking as “the song heard most often on beaches around the world.” Twenty years later, writer Sting was still making $2,000 a day in royalties from the song, according to CBS News.
‘My Sharona,’ The Knack (1979)
The 1970s had plenty of song-of-the-summer candidates, including “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John and Kiki Dee, “Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain and Tennille and “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder. But those summer smashes all seemed to lead up to this mega-hit, written about a 17-year-old girl by 25-year-old Knack singer Doug Fieger. His former girlfriend Sharona Alperin now sells real estate in Los Angeles.